MONUSCO deplores the ongoing hostilities and escalating violence in the Kasais
KINSHASA, 5 April 2017 – MONUSCO is alarmed by ongoing reports from the Kasai region of escalating violence that is continuing to result in serious human rights violations including an ever growing number of civilian casualties and the discovery of mass graves as well as ongoing recruitment by the militias, especially of children.
The most recent violence, between 14-17 March, has affected the town of Kananga, during which dozens of people were killed in clashes between the Kamuina Nsapu militia and the Congolese security forces. The violence has also now spread to new areas such as Luebo, 134 km from the capital of Kasai province, where militia have attacked symbols of the state and also released prisoners from jail. In recent days, Tshimbulu has also suffered renewed violence and there are growing threats against churches in the region, particularly in Luiza. Between 28 and 31 March, the Congolese military also carried out operations during which there have been numerous reports of civilian casualties, allegations of human rights violations and arbitrary arrests, including of minors.
“The violence in the Kasais has already claimed the lives of possibly more than 400 civilians as well as a significant number of members of the security forces. It must stop”, stated Maman S. Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the DRC and Head of MONUSCO.
“It is clear that there is no military solution to the violence. At this point, intensifying the military response will only exacerbate the violence and further place civilian populations in danger,” warned Mr Sidikou.
MONUSCO recognizes there are already Congolese Government initiatives underway in support of ending the hostilities including encouraging the surrender of militia elements as well as moves to find durable solutions to disputes over traditional chieftaincies. MONUSCO encourages the Government to intensify these efforts to find acceptable political solutions.
MONUSCO also calls on the leadership of the Kamuina Nsapu and other militia to stop the senseless violence and immediately halt the recruitment of children.
There are also clear links between the violence in the Kasais and the delayed implementation of the 31 December agreement. “It is no coincidence that the escalation in violence coincided with the recent political developments in Kinshasa. For the sake of the Congolese people and the country, I urge all sides to rapidly seek compromises that allow for the full implement the agreement and the holding of peaceful elections in December” concluded Mr Sidikou.
In response to the deteriorating situation, MONUSCO, continues to engage the Congolese authorities at national and provincial levels with a view to halting the hostilities. Most recently, on 3 April, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Operations and Rule of Law, Mr David Gressly, and the United Nations Police Commissioner were in Kananga to assess ways to further reinforce MONUSCO’s capacities in the Kasai region as well as discuss the current situation with the acting governor and the provincial Security Council.
MONUSCO initially deployed peacekeepers and reinforced police and civilian capacities in November 2016 and has again recently reinforced its presence in the Kasai region. Three additional combat units have been deployed to areas where violence and the threat to civilians is most severe, including Luiza, Tshimbulu and Kabeya Kamwanga. This will be complemented by the establishment of civilian alert networks and early warning mechanisms. MONUSCO will also continue to monitor and document allegations of serious human rights violations in the region, including investigating the reports of mass graves, and has already undertaken a number of human rights missions as well as the monitoring and documentation of human rights violations. MONUSCO will also be available to support greater humanitarian access which becomes more important as the humanitarian needs intensify in the face of a deteriorating security situation.
MONUSCO will also look to providing support to the voter registration process that is due to commence in the Kasais around the end of April. This is a key part of ensuring a timely and peaceful path to the elections in December as well as ensuring that a durable peace returns to this region.
MONUSCO is also available to provide support to the Government security forces in the region in terms of providing training on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.